How to Package Books for Shipping

Two Parts:Packing BooksSending the Books

Although not the most fragile of objects, books still need to be packaged properly in order to ensure that they undergo the shipping process without damage. Butcher paper and strapping tape alone are not sufficient, and, for hardcover books, neither are padded envelopes. Luckily, it's easy to learn how to package books for shipping so that they arrive in the same condition as they were mailed. With proper precautions and packing material, your books will arrive with little or no damage!

Part 1
Packing Books

  1. 1
    Place each book between two pieces of cardboard. Neatly cut two pieces of plain cardboard, exactly the size of the book. Sandwich the book between them to protect the cover. This is especially important if the book has a printed dust jacket, or a glossy cover design.
    • This must be plain, bare cardboard rectangles. Cardboard with print or stickers may stick to the book, or transfer print onto the cover.
    • Trim the cardboard as close to the book's size as you can. On the off-chance that the package suffers an impact, protruding cardboard edges can bend inward and damage the book. If the cardboard and book are the same size, they are better able to resist damage in a fall.
  2. 2
    Wrap in paper. Wrap brown paper, newspaper, or wrapping paper around the cardboard protectors, then tape them in place. This secures the cardboard in place.
  3. Image titled Package Books for Shipping Step 2
    Wrap in plastic. To protect your books from water damage, pack them inside a plastic barrier. A zip-locked bag is perfect if you can find one large enough. Otherwise, wrap the book in sturdy saran wrap.
    • Plastic newspaper delivery sleeves are the right size for many books. Put the book in the bag, fold over the top of the bag, and seal it with packing tape.
  4. 4
    Choose a container. Pick a container with room for padding, but not so much space that the books will rattle around.
    • If you are shipping a single paperback and you are not too worried about damage, choose a snug, padded envelope. If the book is fragile or valuable, use a small box instead.
    • If you have a major shipment, choose sturdy boxes and double-check the weight capacity. Weigh the books before packing to avoid breaking the box.
    • Look for postal requirements and offers. For example, the US Postal Service will give you a free box if you purchase Priority Mail (although this is much more expensive than Media Mail).
  5. Image titled Package Books for Shipping Step 8
    Line the bottom of the box with padding. Bubble wrap, packing peanuts, and crumpled plastic bags are lightweight options. Crumpled newspaper works too, but the weight may add a bit more to shipping costs.
    • You can also use condensed Styrofoam. Buy a cheap Styrofoam cooler and cut it into strips that fit the gaps around the books.
    • One last option: seal zip-locked bags most of the way, then blow into the small gap. Seal shut and use these as airbags to protect your books.
  6. Image titled Package Books for Shipping Step 5
    Pack the books. Pack the container based on how many books you have to send:
    • If you only have a few books, pack them flat in a box, with the cover facing up or down. Separate each book with padding (see below).
    • For a major shipment, pack the books with the spines facing upward. Choose books of exactly the same size, so you can lay additional books flat on top of them. Allow room on each side of the box for padding.
  7. 7
    Fill the remaining space in the box with padding. Pack this material tightly on all sides of the books until they cannot shift at all.
    • If you have the space, separate all books with their own layer of padding. One way to do this is to sort the books by size, in stacks, and wrap each stack tightly in bubble wrap.
  8. 8
    Tape securely. Close the box lid. Get out your packing tape and run it halfway up one side, across the lid, and down the other side. Repeat with a second piece of tape in a cross shape. Cover any flap or opening with packing tape, to prevent something catching on it and ripping it apart. For extra protection, tape along each edge seam of the box as well.
    • Don't tape more than necessary. It's a nuisance if the recipient has to cut off yards of tape to get to the book.
    • Weaving the lid flaps together is not a good substitute for tape. You may weave the flaps together in addition to taping.

Part 2
Sending the Books

  1. 1
    Address the package. If your address label was printed on plain paper, it may tear in transit. Tape down the entire label with clear packing tape. Leave bar codes bare, since tape can make them more difficult to scan.
  2. 2
    Ask for media postage rates. Many postal services offer a discounted price for shipping books. This includes the US Postal Service's Media Mail option, which is much cheaper than a regular package.
    • If you paid for postage with stamps, ask for a "zero postage strip" at the post office. This proves that you gave your book to a human, and therefore that your package was approved as valid.
  3. 3
    Buy postal insurance and tracking information (optional). These are recommended if you are shipping valuable books. Tracking information may be available for free from some postal services.


  • Damage usually happens to the corners of hardcover books, which can get bent (or "bumped," as they say in the book trade). Pay special attention to padding around these corners.
  • Many commercial bookstores have extra packing material that they will give you if you ask nicely. Ask for a lot, and keep the extra in a trash bag ready to pour into boxes when you need to ship something.
  • Many postal services offer a cheap "delivery confirmation" option, which will notify you when the package is delivered.
  • If you're reusing a box, you can make it look nice for the recipient by turning it inside out. Just find the seam where the box is glued together, cut it apart with a knife, turn the box inside-out, and tape over that seam.


  • If you sell books on the Internet, make sure the buyer has no complaint. It isn't the post office's fault if a book arrives damaged if the sender didn't package it properly.

Things You'll Need

  • A box bigger than the book (recommended)
  • Padded envelope (for paperbacks only)
  • Bubble wrap
  • Plastic sleeve or clear plastic to cover the book
  • Packing material such as packing peanuts or Styrofoam
  • Strapping tape or packaging tape
  • Scissors

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